Some passengers on a Bagdogra-bound AirAsia India flight have complained of ill treatment by the airline staff after the flight was delayed by more than four hours on Wednesday, prompting the civil aviation ministry to assure of "appropriate follow-up action".
The incident took place on the flight from Kolkata after the passengers were allegedly asked to deplane after a delay of four-and-a-half hours as the plane had some technical snag.
"DGCA is reviewing the incident and we will take appropriate follow up action," Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said on Twitter. His tweet came in response to a tweet seeking against the airline for the incident.
Indian Oil Corporation Executive Director (West Bengal) Dipankar Ray, who was onboard the same flight, said the staff behaved in a very "unprofessional and rude" manner with the passengers and asked them to deboard, leading to an altercation between both sides.
"The flight was scheduled to depart at 9 am and was initially delayed by 30 minutes. After boarding, we kept sitting inside the aircraft for one-and-a-half hours with no food or water at all," Ray told PTI.
The flight captain then instructed all passengers to de-board without any explanation, he said on Wednesday.
"When passengers refused to deboard due to heavy rains outside, the captain put the air-conditioning blower on full blast to hound the passengers out. It created a scary scene as heavy fog was created inside the plane and it was very suffocating," Ray said.
He also claimed that many women passengers started vomiting and children were crying.
According to a video uploaded on his Facebook profile, passengers were seen arguing with on-board staff to switching off the blower.
"This is the way aviation industry works in India. This #AirAsiaservice was particularly scary ... Avoid Air Asia," Ray said on Facebook.
In a statement on Wednesday, AirAsia India said the flight "i5583 from Kolkata to Bagdogra was delayed by 4.5 hours due to a technical requirement".
It said there was no danger to any of the occupants on-board the aircraft as the cool conditioned air being circulated was condensing.
"This is a normal occurrence on-board all aircraft when the air conditioning is operated in high humidity conditions," the statement said.
The company also claimed that all the affected guests were offered refreshments and provided with alternate arrangements requested for.
Ray, however, countered that and said the airline had asked them to go to the food court in the airport after deplaning them and show the boarding passes to get food.
"When we reached the food court, they refused us. There was no communication from AirAsia at all. We had to pay. When we were boarding the flight second time, then they gave us one sandwich and a 250 ml water bottle. This is an unacceptable treatment," he said.
AirAsia India said it regrets the inconvenience caused to guests on account of this disruption and would like to reinstate that the airline always prioritises safety above all.
Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said in a tweet today, "I suggest to the Ministry of Civil Aviation that the Ministry must suspend the licence of the Air Asia which is anyway an illegal airline. Because Rotten Tata is a 51 per cent share holder so MoCA is frozen stiff.